Mexico: government proposes its own “Fast and Furious”

At a Nov. 10 session, the Mexican Senate called on the government of President Felipe Calder贸n Hinojosa to start criminal proceedings against US officials involved in two programs that let firearms enter Mexico illegally. The programs, Operation Wide Receiver in 2006 and 2007 and Operation Fast and Furious in 2009 and 2010, were supposed to help US agents trace illegal gun smuggling by monitoring suspect weapons purchases. But the agents lost track of some 2,300 firearms that were transported into Mexico, largely for the use of drug cartels.

“If we sent packages of drugs to the US in a government operation,” said Jes煤s Murillo Karam, a senator from Hidalgo state for the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), “they’d be asking us to put those officials in jail鈥攁nd they’d be right, as we are when they send us arms this way.” The senators agreed that Mexico should demand the US officials’ extradition; they also expressed their support for an initiative by US attorney general Eric Holder for controlling gun sales near the Mexico-US border. (Prensa Latina, Nov. 10; Milenio, Mexico, Nov. 11)

In the course of the debate, Sen. Pablo G贸mez Alvarez, who represents the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) for the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), charged that President Calder贸n was proposing operations like Fast and Furious as part of his “war on drugs.” Sen. G贸mez was referring to a package of amendments to the Federal Law Against Organized Crime that were sent to the Senate on Aug. 31, 2010; the Senate has yet to act on the proposed legislation. One section of the proposed amendments would allow the government to use “goods or resources that could be the object, instrument or product of crime鈥n order to permit, under close watch, their delivery, distribution or transportation within the national territory.” The goal would be “to identify and, if possible, detain, with the use of necessary technological advances, the persons or organizations involved.”

G贸mez said the amendments would also allow for undercover agents to infiltrate criminal organizations, giving the agents a “license to kill,” like the fictitious James Bond. The senator called the measure “the best way for legally creating a criminal state in order to fight crime.” (La Jornada, Mexico, Nov. 13)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 13.

See our last post on Mexico.